Teaching STEM to little kids

Sometimes I feel like I can’t even keep up with how fast my kids are learning. Some Boy asked how old I was the other day and I tried to explain it in a way he could comprehend.

Teaching STEM to little kids

“I'm 30, dude. You know how you count to ten on your hands? Do that THREE times and that's how many I am.”

He blinked from behind his palms, raised them up and flashed them at me repeatedly. “Like this?” The concept immediately clicked.

Don't mind me, I'll just be the weirdo teaching my 4-year-old multiplication.

From a very early age I knew that he was drawn to science, technology, engineering and math (commonly known as the collective acronym “STEM”). As a baby, he'd crawl up to our furniture pieces and run his little hand along the bottom of them, comprehending how the components came together. I've intentionally prioritized left-brain exploration with him, since it's something that doesn't come naturally to me. Even when we watch TV, I try to find shows that help explore complex concepts, and then we practice those skills in our everyday lives.

Teaching STEM to little kids

Enter this little guy. We've partnered with Nickelodeon on a paid campaign and they asked if I would share about their latest hit character toys now available at major retailers and Target starting at just $4.99. He certainly didn't need an introduction to Some Boy and Sidekick. “Blaze! Zeg! Crusher!” they shouted when I first showed them the toys inspired by their favorite show. On Blaze and the Monster Machines, Blaze and his pals go on adventures to solve problems with math and science.

Teaching STEM to little kids

Sidekick, definitely a right-brained creative like myself, doesn't seem particularly interested in the mechanics of it all. What he enjoys is driving his little die cast character through the dirt, leaving dusty clouds and tracks in his wake. He doesn't seem to be imitating real life or the show so much as constructing his own monster machine universe, wholly original.

Teaching STEM to little kids

Some Boy, though, he is completely in his element. He names the moves that his talking Blaze makes: zooming forward, racing around a corner, backing and stopping and jumping over things. The bigger concepts don't escape him, either. Amidst all this action he's learning inertia, thrust, acceleration and more. There's a big free printable play pack on the Target website, so we've been coloring and doing worksheet activities to reinforce those learnings.

Teaching STEM to little kids

He's also learned – from dad, I suspect – that Monster Machines can roll over just about anything. I tell him to keep his nice, new toys inside and he just looks confused. “But mom,” he says, “these wheels are ready to roll!”

Touché, kid. Touché.

How do you teach your children about math and science?